Friday 20 October 2017

Thousands give thanks to 'heroes who died for our freedom'

Captain Michael Barry who read the Proclamation at the Ceremony to mark the 101st Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Captain Michael Barry who read the Proclamation at the Ceremony to mark the 101st Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. Photo: Fergal Phillips

Ian Begley

The families of those who fought and died for Irish freedom stood with thousands of patriotic spectators to mark the 101st anniversary of the Easter Rising.

While considerably smaller than last year's celebrations, the day was of no less importance with crowds pouring on to O'Connell Street, Dublin, to witness the tasteful, yet breathtaking, ceremony.

Members of the Defence Forces, the Naval Service and Air Corps took part in the State ceremony, which began with the lowering of the Tricolour on top of the General Post Office.

President Michael D Higgins was joined by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and laid a wreath at the former headquarters of the 1916 rebels.

After the President laid the wreath, a minute's silence was held and the 'Last Post' played. Captain Michael Barry read a stirring rendition of the Proclamation.

Army Chaplain Séamus Madigan said the event was to remember the men, women and children who died in 1916.

"Look kindly on all those who did not come home while our dreams of independence became a reality," he said.

"We give thanks to all the courageous people, past and present, from all traditions who, without any expectations of reward, medals or proclamations, endeavoured to bring healing to our beautiful, yet wounded world."

Mary Clare Collins Powell (79), Michael Collins's grandniece, told the Irish Independent that the revolutionary hero would be "extremely proud" of today's generation.

"Ireland is certainly a different country than what it was when Michael was alive, but nevertheless I'm sure he would have been extremely proud with the young people of today," she said. "He would have been very much in favour of how open our society has become and especially proud of our free educational system."

Four PC9M Air Corps aircrafe fly last the Spire. Photo: Frank McGrath
Four PC9M Air Corps aircrafe fly last the Spire. Photo: Frank McGrath

Ms Powell (inset left) said both her father and grandmother had tea with the revolutionary leader the day before he was assassinated. "My father, who was 17 and in the Army at the time, was in the Imperial Hotel (Cork city) with Michael and my grandmother on the eve of his death.

"My father wanted to go with Michael to Béal na Bláth, the location where he was assassinated, but he insisted that he remain at his post."

Brigid O'Mahony (66), just one of many spectators that lined O'Connell Street yesterday, said that she had very fond memories of attending the Easter Rising celebrations.

"I'm actually standing at the same spot I did in 1966 during the 50th anniversary of the Rising," she said.

President Michael D Higgins chats with 13-year-old Evan Ó Máirtín from Beaumont. Photo: Frank McGrath
President Michael D Higgins chats with 13-year-old Evan Ó Máirtín from Beaumont. Photo: Frank McGrath

"It's always a wonderful occasion and I'm very happy that we continue to hold these event in remembrance of everyone who died.

"My family weren't involved in the fighting, but were always very proud of what these men and women did for them. No matter how times have changed we still have to remember those who fought and died for Irish freedom."

Gerard Mahon (79) said his father, who was 20 years old in 1916, served as a marksman for the rebels.

"My dad was involved in the Ansley Road ambush and was detained to the GPO. When he got there he was given orders to go to the Imperial Hotel, which is now Clerys, as a marksman. He stayed there until the hotel went on fire and was then ordered to go to the GPO, but was shot on Cathedral Street.

"I can't imagine myself being in father's shoes during the time," he said. "I think I would have been involved in some way, but certainly not as brave."

Members of the Defence Forces at the ceremony in Dublin. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Members of the Defence Forces at the ceremony in Dublin. Photo: Fergal Phillips

Irish Independent

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